Cry against FIR delay by Latehar police in encounter death
A conglomeration of human rights organisations in Jharkhand is planning to take legal recourse over the delay by Latehar police to lodge an FIR against security forces who allegedly shot dead a villager after accusing him of being a Maoist.
The Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha has been forced to take the step as it has been three weeks since Jiramani Devi submitted an application with the Garu police station (on June 29) demanding that an FIR be registered against security forces allegedly responsible for the death of her husband Bramhadev Singh, 24.
“The FIR is yet to be registered by the police which is a violation of the constitutional right of an individual. The gram sabha has also written to chief minister Hemant Soren asking for action against the security forces for the fake encounter of innocent villagers,” said Siraj Dutta, a member of the Mahasabha.
A team of human rights activists under the aegis of the Mahasabha had visited Piri village under Garu block in Latehar district where Bramhadev was shot dead on June 12. The team in its fact-finding report released on June 23 claimed that innocent villagers carrying single-shot country-made guns were taking part in an annual hunting festival when they were fired at by security forces.
“The security forces took Bramhadev Singh, 24, to the edge of the forest and fired three shots at him, which led to his death,” states the report, a copy of which has been submitted to Latehar deputy commissioner Abu Imran. A copy of the report is available with The Telegraph.
The report said the incident was not an “exchange of fire”. “Innocent villagers were fired upon by the security forces. The six Adivasis associated with the incident (including Bramhadev) were out on a traditional hunting ritual, as every year for the Sarhul festival. They all carried a Bhartua gun, which has been in their families from generations. This single-fire gun is used to hunt small animals and birds like rabbits, pigs and chickens and to protect crops from animals,” the report says.
“Suddenly, the security forces started firing without any warning. The villagers, however, did not fire any shots from the Bhartua gun they were carrying. They instead raised their hands, shouted that they are common people, not Maoists and requested the police to not shoot. But the security personnel kept firing. One of the bullets fired by them hit one of the villagers Dinanath in the hand. Another bullet hit Bramhadev in the body,” it says.
The firing continued for about half an hour. Five of the men fled from the forest fearing for their life. Thereafter, the security forces took Bramhadev to the edge of the forest and fired three shots at him, which led to his death, according to the report.
The villagers also told the team of activists that none of the six victims were associated with the Maoists.
“The FIR does not mention Bramhadev’s death by the police firing. According to the FIR, this incident was an exchange of fire in which the first shot was fired by the group of armed villagers and some people fled into the forest. The FIR also mentions that Bramhadev’s body was found at the edge of the forest. These statements are contrary to the facts,” the report states.
It also says the police have filed a case against the six Adivasis, including Bramhadev, under various sections (including the Arms Act).
“This too exposes the true intention of the police — it wants to maintain pressure on the villagers to prevent them from questioning the police firing and the murder. In the police station, all the five victims were made to sign (or put their thumb impression) on many pages (some blank and some written) without informing them about the content of these pages,” the report says.
The team also urged the deputy commissioner to ensure an FIR was lodged against the security personnel and officials responsible for the killing of Bramhadev and firing on the villagers. They also demanded the FIR registered by the police against the six Adivasis be quashed and administrative action against the local police and senior officials for filing wrong statements and FIRs.
Latehar superintendent of police Prashant Anand said the case has already been handed over to the CID for investigation and that they are complying with all norms of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
“The case had already been handed over to the CID for investigation. We are complying with all norms laid out by the NHRC,” said Anand.
However, Dutta of the Mahasabha said: “Even if the case has been handed over to the CID, there should be an FIR registered on the basis of complaint lodged by the victim’s wife as it is a constitutional right.”